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Best Children's Books of 2013

Here are our favorite children's titles published in 2013. You can also browse our Best of 2013 lists in the fiction, nonfiction, and tween and teen categories.

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The Day the Crayons Quit By Drew Daywalt, Oliver Jeffers (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Drew Daywalt, Oliver Jeffers (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780399255373
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Philomel Books - June 27th, 2013

Careful kids--if you use your red crayon only for coloring fire trucks and your green one just for coloring leaves, they're liable to get bored. They might even go on strike to demand more opportunity to express themselves. They do in this imaginative, funny, colorful book, anyway. Don't say you weren't warned.

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Steam Train, Dream Train (Goodnight, Goodnight, Construc) By Sherri Duskey Rinker, Tom Lichtenheld (Illustrator) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781452109206
Availability: Usually Available in 1-5 Days
Published: Chronicle Books - April 16th, 2013

A train rolls through the night with a crazy cargo of animals and objects on board, and it's the perfect vehicle to carry your young ones off to sleep. If their dreams are anything like this book, they'll be be happy indeed.

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Journey By Aaron Becker, Aaron Becker (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Aaron Becker, Aaron Becker (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780763660536
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Candlewick - August 6th, 2013

Can you tell a real narrative completely in images? Journey proves you can do it marvelously. Without a word, it tells the tale of a bored girl who
travels into excitement and danger before returning safely home. It’s
great for kids, of course, but even an adult can fall in love with its

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The Dark By Lemony Snicket, Jon Klassen (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Lemony Snicket, Jon Klassen (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780316187480
Availability: Usually Available in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - April 2nd, 2013

One of today's top writers for kids (Snicket) and one of the best illustrators in the business (Klassen) don't disappoint. Darkness is just a little bit scary, but it also has a great personality, and kids will love getting to know it better by reading this picture book.

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The Silver Button By Bob Graham, Bob Graham (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Bob Graham, Bob Graham (Illustrator)
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ISBN: 9780763664374
Published: Candlewick - October 8th, 2013

For my money, Bob Graham is the best in the business at depicting
real life in print. Despite his relatively sparse, cartoonish drawing
style, his characters come across as individuals and his settings seem
like physical locations, not backdrops. Even when the subject is
fanciful, as in April and Esme: Tooth Fairies,
a sense of verisimiltude pervades. Those fairies may live in a tree
stump, but you can see that there are chores required to keep the
household running, and that their mission to collect a tooth isn’t a
lark, but part of an ongoing career.

In his most recent book, The Silver Button, Graham’s eye for
detail is as sharp as it’s ever been. Which is fortunate, because he’s
stripped almost everything else away—there are no plot pyrotechnics on
display, and no protagonist to follow. Instead he elevates daily life
and brings it to our full attention. Things begin in an apartment that’s
both typical and particular, as an older sister draws a duck and her
younger brother rises to take his first step. The camera draws back page
by page to show how much else is happening at exactly the same moment:
kids play in the park, a bird finds a worm, shoppers visit stores, and
so on. It’s a whirlwind tour of an instant in time that winds up back in
the room where it starts, with a proud new toddler and a budding artist
eager to show mom their new skills.

Where kids’ books are concerned, I'm as big a fan of wild imagination
as there is, but I also savor those that hold a mirror up to children’s
lives. Which, by the way, are mostly lived in cities these days.
There’s nothing wrong with portraying farms and fields, but I prefer an
urban emphasis for accuracy. Graham gets that, and that’s why The Silver Button is a triumph of the quotidian.


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Dusk By Uri Shulevitz, Uri Shulevitz (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Uri Shulevitz, Uri Shulevitz (Illustrator)
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ISBN: 9780374319038
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) - September 17th, 2013

Another of this season's favorite picture
books, Dusk follows a grandfather and his grandchild as
they stroll through the city at sunset. When the sky darkens, holiday
lights begin to glow.

This is a simple, lovely book, and
we're really pleased with the way it celebrates everybody's winter
holiday traditions in a very subtle, unforced way. Christmas, Hanukkah,
and Kwanzaa shine equally.

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Deep in the Sahara By Kelly Cunnane, Hoda Hadadi (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Kelly Cunnane, Hoda Hadadi (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780375870347
Availability: Backordered
Published: Schwartz & Wade - October 8th, 2013

Gorgeous colors will transfix readers of this book as they do the young protagonist of the story. She wants to grow up and be able to wear the traditional malafa like her mother, who explains that it's not just beauty that should be on her mind. Few books illustrate the culture of Islam so deftly, or at such an appropriately childlike level.

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Herman and Rosie By Gus Gordon, Gus Gordon (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Gus Gordon, Gus Gordon (Illustrator)
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ISBN: 9781596438569
Published: Roaring Brook Press - October 15th, 2013

In a big city, you can live right on top of people and never get to know them. But when the rhythm is right and the urban soundtrack draws two together at the intersection of art and friendship, there's nothing else like it. You can't beat the beat of the streets.